Politics Extra
Enquirer reporters give the scoop on what your politicians are doing

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Poet Giovanni calls Blackwell S.O.B. at Square

If Ken Blackwell does manage to become Ohio's governor, don't look for Nikki Giovanni to be appointed the state's poet laureate.

Giovanni, a native Cincinnatian, read an original poem entitled "I am Cincinnati,'' a paean to all that is good and great about the Queen City, like three-way chili and Spring Grove Cemetery. She read her poem during re-opening ceremonies to the new Fountain Square.

Then came this part of the poem:

"I am not a son of a bitch like Kenny Blackwell," Giovanni said, adding that Cincinnati is "not a political whore.''

First, there was a collective gasp from the crowd. Then applause and some amens.

Blackwell campaign spokesman Carlo LoParo said Giovanni's remarks showed "a total lack of class.''

"People are going to disagree in politics; we understand that, but there is something to be said for civility,'' LoParo said. "She is utterly without class.''

Friday, October 13, 2006

Portman to the rescue

With her nemesis, Rep. John Murtha, in Cincinnati Saturday campaigning for her opponent, Jean Schmidt went looking for some help and found it in the form of her predecessor, Rob Portman.

Before Murtha arrives mid-day for a Victoria Wulsin rally and fundraiser, Portman - now the White House budget chief, will rally the Schmidt troops at a morning rally at Schmidt's Kenwood campaign headquarters.

The one, the only Schmidt-Wulsin debate!

Democratic challenger Victoria Wulsin would like to debate Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt every day between now and Nov. 7 in every corner of the seven-county 2nd Congressional District, but it’s not going to happen.

What will likely be the one and only debate between the two was taped Friday morning at the WKRC-TV (channel 12) studios and will air Sunday morning at 11 a.m.

After the two candidates finished their taping their half-hour 12 Newsmakers appearance, moderated by WKRC reporter Dan Hurley, Schmidt said she would not go head-to-head with Wulsin again.

“I’m not going to give her another platform to distort my record and call me names,’’ said Schmidt.

But, during the half-hour program, there was no name-calling from either side – just a non-confrontational discussion of a wide range of issues – from Iraq to taxes to sex scandal roiling on Capitol Hill.

Wulsin, an Indian Hill physician who has called for seven debates – one each in al of the southern Ohio district’s counties – said she has no intention of doing any name-calling.

“My husband, who is a psychiatrist, would probably say she is projecting,’’ Wulsin said when told Schmidt had refused any more debates. “He would probably say she is saying that because she wants to attack me.’’

The news from Mankato

Majority Leader John Boehner, R-West Chester, raising money in Minnesota:

Read the story here:

Can Ted Strickland vote in his hometown, and where does he really live?

An East Liverpool woman, Jacquelyn Long, has filed a complaint with the Columbiana County Board of Elections maintaining Ted and Frances Strickland are not residents of the county for voting purposes. Board of elections records say he is registered to vote in Lisbon, Columbiana County.

The local Board of Elections met Thursday and a motion to dismiss the complaint resulted in a tie vote with the two Democrats voting in favor of the motion and the two Republicans opposed.

Lois Gall, director of the board, said in an interview today that she was preparing a packet of materials to send to Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Democrat Ted Strickland's Republican opponent for Ohio governor. The Secretary of State's office has the authority to break the tie.

The Secretary of State always breaks county Boards of Elections' ties. As the boards are always made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, ties are not unusual.

Blackwell's campaign spokesman, Carlo LoParo, declined comment today, referring The Enquirer to the Secretary of State's office for comment on the complaint.

Strickland spokesman, Keith Dailey, said, "Of course Ted's registered to vote in Columbiana C0unty. He's been registered ever since he moved there in 2003. This question has never been raised before and it's clearly frivolous.

"It's a desperate attempt by partisans for partisan gain. Most fair-minded Ohioans know that Ken Blackwell is in no position to break this tie," Dailey said.

At the Secretary of State's office, spokesman James Lee said that he would have no comment until he received the complaint from the Columbiana board. The board has 10 days to give the secretary the complaint and ask that his office break the tie.

Steve Huefner, an elections law attorney at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State, said that two issues are really in question:

1. May the Stricklands vote in Columbiana County?
2. May Ted Strickland hold political office in Ohio?

"The simple fact that they have two residences in Ohio in not unusual," Huefner said. "The true question is at which residence did he intend to vote?"

Huefner also could not make further comment until he sees the complaint.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fourth and final televised debate is back on

The latest update on the next televised governor's debate from Statehouse intern Annie Hall:

The Ken Blackwell and Ted Strickland gubernatorial campaigns today finally made arrangements for their fourth debate which had been tentatively scheduled since the start of the election season for Monday in Columbus.

Unlike three previous debates in Youngstown, Cleveland and Cincinnati -- which had a host of sponsors, the capital city's debate has only one: WBNS-TV, which is owned by the Dispatch Printing Co., also owner of the Ohio News Network and The Columbus Dispatch.

The hourlong debate will be broadcast live on WBNS and ONN at 8 p.m.

"Nothing in particular," was Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey’s reply to why final plans were set so late.

Speculation had been that Strickland, who has a double-digit lead in most polls, would rather not give Blackwell another chance to appear on the same stage with him. It was also speculated that Blackwell might have, what is referred to in political jargon, an "October surprise" and another debate would give him ample opportunity to make some new charge against Strickland and gain momentum in the three weeks before Election Day.

"Ted Strickland has more than held his own in the previous debates," Dailey said. "We are not in the least concerned and believe that the voters trust Ted and his plan to turnaround Ohio."

Blackwell campaign spokesman Carlo LoParo confirmed the debate would be hosted by WBNS-TV.

The debate moderator is Jerry Revish, a WBNS anchor. Panelists, who will direct questions to the candidates, are: Joe Hallett, senior editor at The Columbus Dispatch; Karen Kasler of Ohio Public TV and Radio; John Fortney of WBNS and ONN; and Julie Carr Smyth of The Associated Press.

In the Cincinnati area, Time Warner Channel 105 (the Ohio News Network) will broadcast the debate live.

For more details on where to watch or listen to Monday's debate, read Saturday's Enquirer.

Hamilton County BOE to get new member

With Brad Greenberg resigning to become a Municipal Court judge, the Hamilton County Republican Party is nominating Charles H. "Chip" Gerhardt III (left with Rep. Jean Schmidt in February) to the Board of Elections.

The board's four members consist of two Republicans -- now Greenberg and Hamilton County GOP chairman George Vincent -- and two Democrats, now Dan Radford and Tim Burke, head of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

The board is responsible for counting votes, preparing ballots and other election-related duties.

Gerhardt's nomination must be approved by the Ohio Secretary of State's office but those nominations are rarely turned down.

Gerhardt, an attorney, is vice president of KMK Consulting, owned by his Cincinnati law firm, Keating, Muething and Klekamp.

Tomorrow's political notebook today

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Another day, another poll

A new statewide SurveyUSA poll out Thursday showed Democrat Ted Strickland beating Republican Ken Blackwell nearly 2-1.

The poll of 515 likely voters was taken Monday and Tuesday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

It showed Strickland with 60 percent and Blackwell with 32 percent. Another 5 percent of voters undecided, with the rest split between minor party candidates.

In the U.S. Senate race, the poll showed Democrat Sherrod Brown leading Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, 54 percent to 40 percent.

Labor rally Saturday

The AFL-CIO and a government workers’ union will hold a rally in Cincinnati Saturday to push for more funding for veterans’ health care and kick off a door-to-door get out the vote campaign.
Three of organized labor’s favorite congressional candidates – U.S. Senate candidate Sherrod Brown, 1st Congressional District candidate John Cranley, and 2nd District Congressional candidate Victoria Wulsin have been invited to come speak to the labor rally, organized by the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Government Employees.

The rally begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the AFSCME Council 8 Building, 1213 Tennessee Ave., Paddock Hills.

Cranley at Enquirer

John Cranley was at the Enquirer editorial board Thursday morning, making his case that he is the mainstream candidate in his 1st Congressional District contest with Republican incumbent Steve Chabot.

“Steve’s a personable guy, an affable guy, but he is at the extreme right wing of the spectrum,’’ the Democratic Cincinnati city councilman told the editorial board. “He doesn’t represent the diversity of the district.’’

Cranley pointed out that, two years ago, President Bush won the 1st District presidential vote with only 51 percent.

The editorial board is interviewing congressional candidates individually before making endorsements in the race. Chabot, the six-term congressman, is scheduled to appear before the board Tuesday morning.

Location, location, location:

Strickland on vacation?

Despite Rep. Ted Strickland’s commanding lead over Republican Ken Blackwell in the Ohio gubernatorial race in recent polls, the Ohio Democrat is still a sitting member of Congress. He hasn’t retired. He hasn’t resigned. He hasn’t been expelled.

But he hasn’t cast a vote in Congress in over a month – since Sept. 6, when he approved a measure to congratulate Spelman College, a historically black women’s school near Atlanta, on its 125th anniversary.

That means Strickland has missed the last 87 votes, including measures to strengthen laws against illegal immigration, prohibit minors from being transported across state lines to get abortions without parental permission, and fund the Appalachian Regional Commission.

To put that a little more in perspective: Even former Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned when his inappropriate e-mails and instant messages to congressional pages came to light, and Rep. Bob Ney, who's scheduled to plead guilty tomorrow to accepting gifts and travel from lobbyists in exchange for legislative favors, have cast votes more recently than Strickland has.
To see all the votes he's missed, click here and scroll down to vote #429 on Sept. 6. Then click here to see more votes he missed.

Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey said his boss is “actively campaigning to be Ohio’s next governor and he’s working hard to earn the trust of the people” and that he’d missed the votes because most of them are non-critical resolutions, like the Spelman College bill or others to name post offices, that don’t need Strickland’s vote to pass.

“Of course, it’s all very important, but equally important is the future of the state of Ohio, and Ted Strickland wants to be a part of the future of the state of Ohio,” Dailey said.

Dailey pointed out that Strickland, by the campaign’s internal calculations, has a voting record of 96 percent for his entire congressional career, starting in 1993.

Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Blackwell, countered by pointing out that this year, only two members of Congress – Reps. Jim Davis, D-Fla., another gubernatorial candidate and Lane Evans, D-Ill., who isn't seeking re-election – have missed more votes.
Check out the list of top vote missers from The Washington Post database here.

“There’s no doubt why his district continues to struggle. He doesn’t even care enough to show up and vote,” LoParo said.

Boehner heading to "Golf Club Lane"

We're not kidding.

With Republicans worried about how their party will appeal to voters in the midst of the former Rep. Mark Foley page scandal and Rep. Bob Ney corruption scandal (he's pleading guilty to accepting a lavish golfing trip to Scotland from a lobbyist in exchange for official favors in federal court tomorrow), not to mention the Gov. Bob Taft scandal for failing to report golfing fees he was given, GOP leaders are amassing in Ohio this weekend to plot strategy.

According to the Hamilton Journal-News, House Majority Leader John Boehner, a West Chester Republican, plans to meet with gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell and "some state-level Republican candidates" on Saturday to coordinate campaign efforts.

The meeting is being held at the Butler County Republican Party headquarters, located at 5964 Golf Club Lane.

You want to see my what?

When workers arrived today at their job at the Hamilton County Administration Building, they were greeted by unarmed Sheriff's Office employees checking ID badges.

The move was instituted by County Administrator Patrick Thompson who wanted a greater security presence in the building. Unlike other nearby county facilities -- the courthouse, Job & Family Srvices offices and the building housing prosecutors, public defenders and appeals court judges -- the Administration Building doesn't have metal detectors or other security measures upon entering.

Thompson said there was no specific incident that led him to ask for the change.

It resulted in some workers scrambling to get new or updated employee ID badges.

So far, the move has proved very unwelcomed, largely because it came as a surprise to those not connected with the county administration.

At least two elected officials with offices in the building -- Auditor Dusty Rhodes and Recorder Rebecca Groppe -- have complained to Thompson today. (Their e-mails are below).

"Nobody told us about it before they did it," Rhodes said today.

Rhodes wondered how effective the security can be if the unarmed non-uniformed Sheriff's employees are checking the employees but not non-employees.

"It's not the employees. It's the strangers who are the (security) issue," Rhodes said.

Below is the original e-mail sent this morning to other departments in the Administation Building from Karla Plank, Thompson's administrative aide -- as well as Rhodes' response. Rhodes has Susan Silver of his office reply. After that is Groppe's e-mail complaining to Thompson.

-----Original Message-----
From: Plank, Karla
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 10:18 AM
Subject: Security Procedure When entering the Administration building this morning, you may have been stopped by the front desk Security Officer to present your employee badge. This new procedure has been implemented in an effort to enhance overall building safety and security of both our employees and visitors. Please be sure to have your employee badge readily accessible when entering the building. We appreciate your assistance and cooperation. Patrick ThompsonCounty Administrator

From: Silver, Susan
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 11:00 AM
To: 'Thompson, Patrick
RE: Security Procedure

In reply to your e-mail, inasmuch as our office’s employees were first asked for identification badges this morning, it comes a little late. Can you be more specific as to the new procedure and how it protects employees and customers? What will happen to an employee who is not carrying a badge? Will there be a sign-in procedure for an individual in that position? And will all members of the public be asked for identification? Clearly, they will not have county identification badges. Will they be asked to sign in? At what time of day will this new security measure kick in? Our employees arriving before 8:00 a.m. today were not stopped but those arriving around 8 were. Are you aware that this office opens for public business at 7:30?

I have been in favor of improving building security for many years. I support the initiative but would have appreciated prior discussion and consultation as it affects our office and the public we serve. In any event, receiving e-mail after the fact is not the best approach.

(Susan Silver on behalf of)
Dusty Rhodes

From: Groppe, Rebecca
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 12:27 PM
To: Thompson, Patrick; Portune, Todd; Heimlich, Phil; Dewine, Pat; Rhodes, Dusty
Subject: RE: Security Procedure

Mr. Thompson: I have been trying to contact you by telephone this date, but no one is answering. For future reference, advance notice and input on decisions that will affect the operation of the HCRO will be appreciated. For the last ten years I have been regularly requesting security in this building. The security needs of each office are different and should be addressed accordingly. Had you contacted me ahead of time, you would have known that the HCRO has extended hours for customers. What plan or idea would you have for them? I am requesting, therefore, a round table discussion with all of the officials to discuss each office's needs. That way, we can protect the integrity of the official business of the offices, the employees and the taxpayers.

Rebecca Prem Groppe, County Recorder

Pepper's safety plan

David Pepper plans to add Sheriff’s patrols to crime hot spots and require Hamilton County to fund 911 operations for all police agencies in the county if the Democrat is elected Commissioner.
Pepper, seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Commissioner Phil Heimlich, will use the approximately $11 million annually that could come to Hamilton County if a constitutional amendment that allows slot machine parlors is passed to fund those and other ideas he has in his safety plan.

Here’s the plan in .pdf format.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ney to plead guilty Friday

Malia Rulon reports:

WASHINGTON – Rep. Bob Ney is expected to tell a federal judge Friday that he accepted thousands of dollars in free meals, sporting tickets, casino chips, and travel, including a lavish golfing trip to Scotland, from lobbyists in exchange for official favors.

He also could resign his congressional seat on Friday.

The six-term sitting congressman is scheduled to appear before Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia at 10 a.m. on Friday the 13th to officially enter his guilty plea on two criminal charges.

The plea comes after years of the Heath Republican insisting he did nothing illegal or improper. It also comes on the heels of Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida resigning for sending improper Internet messages to congressional pages, another scandal that has rocked Republicans in the weeks leading to the Nov. 7 election.

Friday will be Ney’s first public appearance since he agreed in court papers Sept. 15 to plead guilty to charges in the government’s widening congressional corruption probe and checked himself into a facility to receive treatment for alcohol abuse.

He faces up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Unlike Foley, however, Ney, who dropped his re-election bid in August, has not resigned his House seat. Several Republicans – including Joy Padgett of Coshocton, who is running to replace Ney in Congress – have called on him to step down. Democrat Zack Space of Dover, who is running against Padgett for the seat, also has called for Ney to resign.

Ney, who has said he “made serious mistakes,” stepped down from his chairmanship of the House Administration Committee and Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, although his name and picture remain on the latter Web site.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., has declined to call for Ney to step down but has promised a “quick solution” to the issue. It’s expected that like former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., who resigned the day he plead guilty to corruption charges, Ney too would resign on Friday.

Under House rules, a member convicted of a felony is not required to resign, although the House ethics committee could hold hearings to determine whether to expel the lawmaker, as it did in the case of former Rep. Jim Traficant, R-Ohio. Traficant, the second member expelled from Congress since the Civil War, was convicted of 10 counts of bribery, racketeering and tax evasion.

House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters during a news conference last month that Ney had not been asked to immediately resign because it’s possible that he could change his mind about pleading guilty or details of the plea agreement could change.
“A lot of things are going to happen between now and then and I would prefer to allow this decision to be his. Until he has his day in court, I don’t think it’s up to me to comment on what he should do or shouldn’t do,” Boehner said.

Sally Collins, a spokeswoman for the House Administration Committee, said that means Ney was paid, as usual, on Oct. 1. Members of Congress make $165,200 a year, or about $450 a day.
Ney’s last vote was Sept. 12 in support of a memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York City. House rules say anyone who pleads guilty to a crime requiring a sentence of two or more years in prison “should” refrain from voting.

Ney, 52, also will be eligible in 10 years to collect his pension as lawmakers can only lose that benefit if they are convicted of treason, she said.

Pete Sepp, communications director for the National Taxpayers Union, said he estimates that if Ney retires in 10 years, he’ll be eligible to collect about $30,000 a year. If he takes an early retirement in four years, he could collect about $20,000 a year.

According to papers filed last month, Ney accepted $170,000 in travel from lobbyists and $50,000 in gambling chips from a foreign businessman. In exchange, he contacted officials, made statements on the House floor and attempted to pass legislation. He then filed false reports with U.S. Customs and the U.S. House to cover it all up.

Phone calls to Ney’s lawyer, Mark H. Tuohey, and Ney’s congressional office weren’t returned. In fact, it was Ney’s own voice on a recorded greeting that thanked midday callers for contacting the “office of the people of the 18th District of Ohio.”

Tomorrow's political notebook today

Nearly a year ago, freshman Rep. Jean Schmidt caused an uproar in the U.S. House when she called Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, a coward in a floor speech.

Saturday, Murtha, a harsh critic of the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq, comes to Cincinnati for some pay-back.

The Pennsylvania Democrat will attend a 12:30 p.m. rally with supporters of Schmidt’s Democratic opponent, Victoria Wulsin of Indian Hill, at the IBEW Hall in East Walnut Hills. In the afternoon, Murtha will join Wulsin at a fundraiser at a private home in Cincinnati.

Last November, after Murtha made headlines by suggesting that it was time for the U.S. to begin pulling back troops from Iraq, Schmidt took the House floor and, quoting a conversation she had that day with State Rep. Danny Bubp, a Marine Corps reserve officer, delivered a message to Murtha: “Cowards cut and run, Marines never do.’’

Bedlam ensued on the House floor, where personal attacks against fellow members are against the rules. Schmidt ended up being the butt of a Saturday Night Live TV skit.

This summer, Murtha sent a fundraising letter to Democrats in 2nd Congressional District, urging them to contribute to Wulsin’s campaign.

Matt Perrin of the Schmidt re-election campaign said bringing Murtha to the 2nd District is “an odd choice.’’

“I don’t think she is going to win any votes bringing John Murtha here,’’ Perrin said. “His opinions on Iraq don’t match the opinions of the people of the district.’’

DeWine ad scrutinized

The Army is reviewing the appearance of a soldier in uniform in a TV ad by Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine.

The soldier wears Army fatigues with “Larkin” on the name tag and stands silently for about two seconds in front of an American flag with what appears to be his wife and two young daughters.

“He fought for increased benefits for military families,” the ad’s announcer says of DeWine as the family is shown.

Unlike still photos of soldiers in combat earlier in the ad, this soldier appears to have been filmed specifically for the ad.

Defense Department instructions prohibit members of the armed forces from wearing their uniform while participating in partisan political activity, said department spokesman Maj. Stewart Upton.

“I have forwarded this matter over to the Army Public Affairs for review and possible comment/action,” Upton said in an e-mail. “All military personnel, including National Guard and reserve forces, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign or election events.”

Army spokesman Paul Boyce said he had received the inquiry and lawyers would review it.
The issue was first reported Tuesday by the liberal political blog Talking Points Memo. DeWine, a two-term Republican, is in a close race with Democrat Sherrod Brown.

DeWine spokesman Brian Seitchik declined to give information about the soldier, except that he is a real soldier, not an actor. He said the appearance did not violate military regulations.

“Soldiers have been shown in political ads forever,” Seitchik said. “This soldier was not asked to do an endorsement and did not do one.”

Meanwhile, on a Mexican dairy farm...

From the governor's office:

Visits automotive plants and a dairy farm to encourage increased trade
QUERETARO, MEXICO (October 11, 2006) – In an effort to generate new jobs and business opportunities for Ohio, Governor Bob Taft today led the trade mission delegation on group sales calls to Mexican automotive component suppliers Eaton and Tremec, and a Mexican dairy farm to seek more export business for Columbus-based COBA/Select Sires.

“We want Mexican companies to buy our world-class Ohio products,” said Taft. “By increasing our exports to Mexico, we will create more jobs for Ohioans. The best way to do this is by holding these face-to-face business meetings and networking opportunities with the key business and government leaders of Mexico.”

Taft and 44-member delegation representing 36 Ohio companies kicked-off the third day of the Mexico trade mission by meeting with executives from the Eaton Company, an automotive component manufacturer and Tremec, a car and truck transmission manufacturer, to promote Ohio’s strength as an automotive exports supplier.

The Governor and Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Fred Dailey then joined representatives from COBA/Select Sires, a genetics and reproductive services provider for dairy and beef breeders and ranchers, at a Mexican dairy farm near Queretaro to promote Ohio agricultural exports. Mexico is Ohio’s second-largest export market, behind Canada, with nearly $2.4 billion in sales in 2005.

The Ohio Business and Investment Mission to Mexico, October 9-13, is Governor Taft’s 10th and final international business mission and the second time he has led a delegation to Mexico. The Governor’s previous missions – Mexico, Europe, South America, Canada, Taiwan and Japan – have resulted in more than $882 million in projected new business and investment and 2,591 new jobs.
# # #

Laura Bush's speech


Office of the First Lady
(Cincinnati, Ohio)
For Immediate Release October 11, 2006


Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
Cincinnati, Ohio

1:02 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you so much, Congressman. Thank you, Steve, thank you for the very, very nice introduction and the warm welcome to Ohio. I want to thank Steve's wife, Donna, as well, who stood up a minute ago for us.

When your spouse is in politics, you're involved whether you want to be or not. So we know that successful politicians have families like Donna and Steve's mother, who stand with them and stay with them through every one of these campaigns, and really are the ones who are the support -- emotional support that they need when, like Steve talks about, you're in a campaign and you're being characterized in a way that you're not. So thank you, Donna, very much for your support for your husband. (Applause.)

I'm delighted to be with all of you today to support Steve Chabot's campaign for the United States Congress. A lifelong resident of Cincinnati, Steve cares deeply about the people of Ohio. And during his 12 years in the House, Congressman Chabot has distinguished himself as a passionate advocate for the families of the First District.

Steve is keeping Ohio's families safe through his support for Cincinnati's law enforcement. During his five years on the Cincinnati City Council, Steve worked closely with the police department to develop strong anti-crime initiatives -- programs that still protect Cincinnati from crime today.

In Congress, through his leadership on the House Judiciary Committee, Steve offered the Crime Victims Rights Act, the first federal legislation to define the rights of Americans affected by crime and to give the federal authorities the power to protect those rights. Thank you very much for that, Steve.

As Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution in the 109th Congress, Steve's leadership helped pass the Voting Rights Reauthorization Act, which President Bush signed into law this July. The fairness with which Congressman Chabot conducted hearings on the bill, and his commitment to protecting Ohioans' and Americans' civil rights have won him praise from both sides of the aisle.

Congressman Chabot is helping Ohio's families by ensuring that their tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly. He supports the Presidential Line Item Veto, which will help eliminate unnecessary spending from the federal budget. Steve also supports President Bush's tax cuts, which have fueled our economy and have helped add 5.7 million new jobs since 2003. And that means 5.7 million more Americans wake up with the dignity and the sense of purpose that comes with a job.

There are few people more dedicated to creating jobs in Ohio than Congressman Chabot. Through his leadership on the House Small Business Committee, Steve has improved the business climate for Ohio entrepreneurs so that they can expand their companies and create more jobs for your state. He supports faith-based programs that offer job training to people on welfare, helping them learn to provide for themselves and their families. And in the 109th Congress, Steve supported the Job Training Improvement Act, legislation that provides counseling, skills training and information about the job market to help unemployed Americans get back to work.

Offering young people the hope of good employment is one of the most important things we can do for our children. Congressman Chabot has a long record of commitment to children and to young people. In Congress, he supported legislation to keep harmful drugs out of Cincinnati and other communities, and away from Cincinnati's young people. After college, while he was going to law school, Steve was a teacher at St. Joseph's Catholic Elementary School, just a few blocks from here. As a Congressman, he still loves visiting local schools, where he teaches children about being good citizens. And through his work to reduce the cost of student loans and to increase funding for Pell Grants, Steve is helping young people throughout Ohio realize the dream of a college education.

We all know, though, that the well-being of young people ultimately depends on adults' ability to keep them safe, as we've been reminded in recent weeks by the school shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin, and just recently in Pennsylvania. Families across the country are saddened and troubled by these attacks.

Yesterday the White House, in partnership with the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, hosted a National Conference on School Violence. The conclusions drawn from the conference will help affected communities heal in the wake of these tragedies, and will equip Americans with the information they need to ensure that their children can learn in safety.

But keeping young Ohioans safe also requires protecting them from foreign threats, by defeating terrorism and increasing liberty abroad.

Steve Chabot understands the needs of our troops at this crucial time in our country's history. He's introduced and helped pass legislation that improves benefits for service members' spouses and children. And in the House, Steve is a champion of the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.)

With us today are family members of four young men who were killed while serving in uniform. I've just met Shauna and Billie Moore, who lost their husband and son, Army Sergeant Benjamin Moore, when he died in a training accident at Fort Hood in 2003. I met Kathryn Dyer, the mother of Lance Corporal Chris Dyer; Carolyn and Greg Cifuentes, the parents of Corporal Michael Cifuentes; and Pat Murray and Ken Kreuter, the parents of Lance Corporal David Kreuter. Chris, Michael and David were killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq in August 2005. They were members of the Ohio Marine Reserve Regiment that lost 20 young Marines in the same week last August. Every one of us salute these young men and their families, and we give their families our deepest respect and honor. (Applause.)

Thanks to the men and women in uniform, the people of Iraq are now free from the oppression of Saddam Hussein and are working to build a democratic future for their country. And in Afghanistan, women and girls can now be educated. It's hard for us to imagine a country that would prohibit half of its citizens from being educated. But now, little girls are in school all across Afghanistan.

All of us are so proud of the men and women who are deployed around the world defending our country overseas to make sure that our families are kept safe here in the United States.

Congressman Chabot's dedication to the people of Ohio, and his achievements, remind us of why he must be reelected to the United States Congress. Steve understands that America faces challenges too important to be reduced to simple politics.

President Bush has an ambitious agenda for the rest of his time in Washington, and he takes his responsibility to the American people very seriously.

Ending our dependence on foreign oil, reforming our immigration system, rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and keeping our country safe from terrorism are not easy tasks, but they're absolutely vital goals. To accomplish them, we must have serious national conversations, conducted with civility and respect. And Steve Chabot is a positive and powerful part of that dialogue.

This is just one reason why Steve is a wonderful leader for Ohio. When you look through his distinguished record of public service, you'll find many more.

Thank you all very much. Thank you for coming out to support Steve. Thank you for your generous support for his reelection. I urge you to redouble your efforts between now and November to make sure Steve Chabot is reelected to the United States Congress. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

END 1:13 P.M.

Murtha to campaign for Wulsin

From the Wulsin campaign:

October 11, 2006


Congressman John Murtha to campaign for Wulsin, hold fundraiser on Saturday afternoon

Cincinnati, Ohio – Congressman John Murtha, a national Democratic leader and a decorated war veteran, will come to Cincinnati on Saturday and stump for Dr. Victoria Wulsin, who is running for Congress in Ohio's 2nd District. Murtha will attend a rally with supporters, will hold a press conference, and then will headline a fundraiser for Wulsin.

Saturday Schedule for Murtha and Wulsin

12:30 Rally: IBEW Union Hall, 1216 E. McMillan St.
1:30 Press Conference: IBEW Union Hall
2 – 3:30 Fundraiser: Private home in Cincinnati.

Murtha, a Marine who received a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam, has been an outspoken critic of the Bush Administration's handling of the Iraq war. On November 18, 2005, Jean Schmidt gained infamy for attacking Congressman Murtha's patriotism and bravery on the floor of the US House.

Congressman Murtha serves Pennsylvania's 12th District. He was elected to Congress in 1974, becoming the first Vietnam veteran in Congress. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserves in 1990 as a Colonel, 38 years after first joining the Corps.

Crooner Heimlich

His grandparents were the famous Kathryn and Arthur Murray of dance studio fame, but Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich might want to reconsider any thoughts of adding to his entertainment resume.

Fellow Commissioner Todd Portune, at today's commission meeting, was discussing budget issues he hoped would result in Hamilton County providing additional funding -- if needed -- next year to the prosecutor and Coroner offices to help solve cold case crimes.

Heimlich interjected, hoping to add levity, when he asked Portune if he got that idea from watching television shows.

Portune, the father of young children, replied that about the only television he gets to watch revolves around The Wiggles and other children's programming.

Portune then turned to Heimlich, the father of two children, both age three and under, and asked if he knew about The Wiggles, a group of grown men who do skits and songs to amuse and entertain throngs of children.

Heimlich proved he knows The Wiggles all too well -- by breaking out into song, "singing" -- the term is used loosely here -- one of their hits "In the Big Red Car We Like to Ride."

"Toot, toot. Chug, chug. Big red car. I'm going to drive a big red car," a blushing Heimlich sang, adding that his favorite Wiggles were Greg and Anthony.

Interjecting politics into the less-than-serious moment, Portune smiled broadly and asked Heimlich "Would that make you a Blue Wiggle or a Red Wiggle?"

Laura Bush at the Museum Center

First Lady Laura Bush praised Rep. Steve Chabot as a man who can help her husband be successful in the last two years of his presidency.

At a luncheon fundraising event for Chabot in the basement of the Cincinnati Museum Center, the first lady rattled off a long list of what she said were Chabot's "great record of support and help for his district."

In the audience for the fundraiser were the families of four area servicemen who have lost their lives in Iraq.

The fundraising event raised at least $170,000 for Chabot, who is locked in a difficult re-election campaign.

After the lunch, Mrs. Bush, accompanied by Chabot, his wife and mother, did a walking tour of the Cincinnati Children's Museum, where the First Lady played with children and posed for dozens of photographs taken by the kids' mothers and fathers.

Is Phil Heimlich really Bob Taft?

Here's the latest television ad from David Pepper, the Democrat challenging Republican incumbent Phil Heimlich for a seat on the Hamilton County Commission. The ad compares Heimlich to a past Republican Hamilton County Commissioner, out-going Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

Here's the ad.

Scoffflaw Pepper?

Here is the latest television ad from the campaign to re-election Republican Phil Heimlich a Hamilton County Commissioner. It accuses challenger David Pepper, a Democrat, of being an automotive scofflaw and less than prudent spender of public money.

Here's the ad

More from the Museum Center

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Only about 20 people were seated in the dining room when the meal was served. Most of the guests were in an adjacent room waiting for the chance to go through a receiving line where they would shake hands with the First Lady.

Chabot's aides are saying they expect about 150 people to attend and the luncheon, which was rescheduled from an earlier date in August, will raise about $170,000 - much of that raised earlier in the summer.

They've got "what looks like Swiss steak with some kind of mashed-up sweet potatoes," Wilkinson reports.

Report from Union Terminal

Howard Wilkinson reports from the basement of Union Terminal:

The museum is still open to visitors; moms with kids in strollers are in the museum amd checknig out exhibits, just as every day.

The fundraiser itself is in the basement of Union Terminal.

Only about 30 people are there now; organizers are expecting 100 guests who paid at least $1,000 each.

It costs $2,100 for a brief private reception with the First Lady.

Mrs. Bush is expected to the tour the museum after the fundraiser.

Wilkinson reports guest are getting a "fancy old salad." Something with celery and currants and some sort of raspberry sauce, he says.

Strickland's lead must grow to 20 pts. to save Dann

An update from Statehouse intern Annie Hall on the Bliss Institute survey:

John Green, director of the University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, is one of the most respected political analysts in Ohio. Tuesday he held a press conference outlining the results of a month-long poll on the statewide candidate races and issues.

Green was asked about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland’s possible coattails in helping elect other Democrats on the statewide ticket. The Lisbon congressman has consistently polled in the double digits ahead of Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

The Democrat having the most difficulty grabbing onto Strickland’s coattails is state Sen. Marc Dann ,who is in the unenviable position of running against Auditor Betty Montgomery, arguably Ohio’s most popular Republican, for state attorney general.

How many percentage points ahead of Blackwell must Strickland win by on Nov. 7 for Dann to beat Montgomery?

"Not speaking from our data but speaking as a political scientist," Green said, "perhaps 20 or something like that because in our data, and I think other people’s data support this too, Betty Montgomery has a pretty good deal of support."

Tuesday's survey, involving 1,073 people, was conducted Aug. 20 to Sept. 29. It found Strickland leading Blackwell by 14 percentage points.

Green added: "But if, on Election Day, there is a 13 or 14 percent gap, I think that the Republicans would win the attorney general’s race but I think they'd lose the other (statewide, non-gubernatorial) races.”

The complete General Election Survey can be found at: www.uakron.edu/bliss/research.php
and in today's Enquirer at: http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20061011/NEWS01/610110368/

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"Noe and Friends" video is censored

An update on yesterday's blog item about the "Noe and Friends" video publicized by ProgressOhio.org

"We have been informed by Ohio Government Television that using video of Tom Noe at Justice (Judith) Lanziger's swearing in ceremony is in their opinion a violation of copyright. While we disagree with the premise that state government can generate video to promote themselves and their work, but not allow discourse over that footage -- we, as a non-profit, do not have the deep pockets to fight this and intend to comply with the law.

"The fact that Tom Noe, or any other citizen for that matter, was given license by the Chief Justice to stand in the well of the Ohio Supreme Court introducing Secretary of State (Ken) Blackwell, Auditor Betty Montgomery and Governor Bob Taft -- speaks volumes about the pay-to-play atmosphere in Columbus.

"Unfortunately we cannot link to the OGTV website as that official swearing in footage is not available , even though it was broadcast throughout Ohio at the time of the January 2005 event.

"So as of 6 p.m. our video is censored. Memories, however, remain."

Brian Rothenberg
Executive Director

Sean Hannity coming to Cincinnati

From the Ken Blackwell campaign:

You are cordially invited to a rally with "great Americans"to support Ken Blackwell, our next governor
with special guestsnationally-syndicated talk show host Sean Hannity
Cincinnati's own Bill Cunningham of 700 WLW
Thursday, October 19
6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park in Blue Ash
4937 Hunt Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45242Click here for directions.
For more information
please contact the Blackwell Campaign Headquarters
at (614) 221-8552
or info@kenblackwell.com

Blackwell at Enquirer Editorial Board

Howard Wilkinson reports:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell defended himself against Democratic charges that he has been too political in his role as Ohio’s chief election officer in a meeting Tuesday with the Enquirer’s editorial board.

And the Ohio secretary of state said he doesn’t believe a report in investigative reporter Bob Woodward’s new book quoting President Bush as calling him “a nut.’’

Some Democrats were critical of Blackwell after the 2004 presidential election, saying he tried to suppress voter turnout, which they say cost John Kerry the presidential election. Ohio’s small margin for George W. Bush ended up putting him over the top.

“I’m an independent operator when it comes to doing my job,’’ Blackwell told the editorial board. “I’ve ticked off people on both sides.’’

Democratic complaints about his acting as Bush’s 2004 campaign chairman in Ohio while acting as chief elections officer are unfounded, Blackwell said, saying that three of his predecessors as secretary of state – Republican Bob Taft and Democrats Anthony Celebrezze and Sherrod Brown – also took leadership roles in their party’s presidential campaigns.

In Woodward’s new book, “State of Denial,’’ Woodward quotes a frustrated President Bush on election night 2004 as he awaits results form Ohio, calling Blackwell “a nut.’’

“I don’t believe it,’’ Blackwell said. “Why would anyone think he did say that? I’ve known him half of my adult life.’’

Blackwell was interviewed by the editorial board for the purpose of issuing its endorsement in the governor’s race. Democrat Ted Strickland is scheduled to speak to the editorial board on Oct. 18.

Memo to every politician in Greater Cincinnati...

Oct. 10, 2006

‘Nice and Slow’;
Political Attack Ads Are Less Effective than Slow-Paced, Non-Attack Ads

COLUMBIA, Mo. – At the height of election season, candidates often campaign with advertisements that attack their opponents, criticizing weaknesses and mistakes. Such ads are widely criticized, but they continue to be popular, partially because some studies have indicated they are effective. A new study from the University of Missouri-Columbia has found the opposite: non-attack ads are more effective than attack ads.

“According to the results of this study, non-attack, slow-paced televised political ads are the most attention grabbing and memorable,” said Paul D. Bolls, assistant professor of advertising in MU’s School of Journalism. “These results contradict findings from previous research. This study indicates that candidates do not necessarily need to go on the attack to get their message attended to and remembered.”

Bolls and Katherine C. Roehrick, an MU undergraduate researcher, studied the physiological responses of 31 viewers while the viewers watched a series of 30-second political ads about unfamiliar candidates. The ads were classified in four different ways: non-attack/fast-paced, non-attack/slow-paced, attack/fast-paced and attack/slow-paced. Fast-paced ads had eight or more camera cuts or edits, while slow-paced ads had no more than four. Bolls and Roehrick measured viewers’ heart rates and determined that they paid the most attention to slow-paced, non-attack ads.

“Most of the slow-paced, non-attack ads involved a candidate talking to the camera, directly addressing the viewer,” Bolls said. “Researchers have found that as television actors appear closer to viewers, attention increases and memory improves. A similar effect could have occurred in our study.”

Each participant also was given a memory test after viewing the ads: they listened to audio clips and were asked to indicate whether they remembered having heard the clip as part of the series of televised ads they had just seen. Again, responses indicated that slow-paced, non-attack ads were the most effective. Participants remembered audio clips from the non-attack ads better than from the attack ads, regardless of whether the attack ads were fast or slow paced.

“Non-attack, slow-paced ads had the best audio recognition,” Bolls said. “Researchers have observed how attack ads appear to lead to negative attitudes toward politics in general, increasing political negativity and voter alienation. We’ve found that under some conditions, ‘nice and slow’ can be an effective way to communicate with potential voters.”

The study was presented at the International Communication Association conference in Dresden, Germany, in June and is currently under review at the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. The study was supported by MU’s Office of Undergraduate Research.


Mitchell coming to support Pepper

Hoping to inject a boost of enthusiasm and energy in the final days of the election, David Pepper is bringing to town next week the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader.

Pepper, the Democrat hoping to unseat Republican Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich, will host an Oct. 18 rally featuring George Mitchell, the former Maine Democrat.

The event is from 5-7 p.m. at the Taft Museum of Art, 312 Pike St., Downtown.

Mitchell was a U.S. Senator from 1980-1995, serving as the majority leaders from 1989-1995.

Pepper's father, John Pepper, the former chairman of Procter & Gamble, replaced Mitchell
as chairman of the board of Walt Disney Co. four months ago.

Pepper also is hosting a Community Forum, 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday at the Madisonville Rec Center, 5320 Stewart Ave.

Taft is campaigning for statewide issues

While Gov. Bob Taft is not stumping for any Republicans seeking statewide office this year, he has campaigned for and against statewide ballot issues, according to his spokesman.

Spokesman Mark Rickel, reacting to an article in today's Enquirer, said Taft has campaigned for SmokeFree Ohio (Issue 5) and against a proposal to place slot machines at horse tracks. (Issue 3)

Rickel said Taft appeared at events in Columbus, Dayton and Cleveland to speak out against the Learn & Earn gambling ballot issue.

The Enquirer reported Taft left for a seven-day trade mission to Mexico on Sunday.

"I was a little bothered by the notion that the last two years he's gone out of the country when the election's are coming around," Rickel said. "It just bothers me that (you wrote) he's leaving the country to get out of sight. I don't agree with it, I guess."

Since Taft's election in 1998, he has led foreign trade missions to Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

Bliss poll: Strickland well ahead, DeWine-Brown too close to call

Democrat Ted Strickland maintains a substantial lead over Republican Kenneth Blackwell in the Ohio governor’s race, while the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Mike DeWine is too close to call, according to a new survey released today by the University of Akron Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

The random telephone survey of 1,073 Ohioans was taken Aug. 20 to Sept. 29, and included a large number of undecided respondents.

It also found that 53 percent of Ohioans expressed a "great deal of confidence" that their votes would be counted fairly in the 2006 general election. However, Democrats and less-likely voters reported much lower levels of confidence than Republicans and likely voters. Sixteen percent of all respondents had "little or no confidence."

The complete report can be found online here.

"The results of this election will resonate in Ohio for many years to come," said John C. Green of the Bliss Institute, and one of the poll’s directors. "2006 looks like a good year for Ohio Democrats, but exactly how good remains to be seen."

The major findings of the survey include:

• In Ohio’s gubernatorial race, U.S. Rep. Strickland leads Secretary of State Blackwell by a large margin. Among the general public, 40.6 percent favored Strickland, 26.5 percent Blackwell, 4.2 percent other candidates, and 28.7 percent were undecided. Among likely voters, 47.4 percent favored Strickland, 33.8 percent Blackwell, 3.4 percent other candidates, and 15.5 percent were undecided.

• Ohio’s U.S. Senate race is extremely close. Among all respondents, Sen. DeWine had the support of 36.3 percent, U.S. Rep. Brown 35.0 percent, other candidates 3.2 percent, and 25.4 percent were undecided. Among likely voters, DeWine led with 41.7 percent, Brown 41.5 percent, other candidates 2.5 percent, and 14.3 percent were undecided.

• A two-thirds majority of Ohio voters — 67.9 percent — said the state was on the "wrong track" overall; 74.4 percent and 56.8 percent of all respondents said Ohio was on the wrong track in regard to the economy and moral climate, respectively.

• In the attorney general’s race, Republican Auditor Betty Montgomery leads Democratic state Sen. Marc Dann 32 percent to 22 percent in the general public, and 38 percent to 24 percent among likely voters.

• For secretary of state, Democrat Jennifer Brunner, a former judge, leads Republican Greg Hartmann, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, 24 percent to 14 in the general public, and 27 percent to 20 percent among likely voters.

• In the auditor’s race, Democrat Barbara Sykes is ahead of Republican Mary Taylor 25 percent to 15 percent among the general public, and 29 percent to 19 percent among likely voters.

• For treasurer, Democrat Richard Cordray leads Republican Sandra O’Brien 24 percent to 21 percent among the general public, and 29 percent to 26 percent among likely voters.

• A proposal to raise the minimum wage drew the most support of any ballot initiative, with 81 percent support among the general public and 72.9 percent backing from likely voters.

• A proposal to allow slot machines in Ohio was backed by 47.6 percent of both the general public and likely voters, vs. 38.3 percent of the general public and 40.4 percent of likely voters against the measure.

• A proposed ban without exceptions on smoking in public places was supported by 42.6 percent of the general public and 47.7 percent of likely voters; a smoking ban with exceptions was backed by 51.4 percent of the general public and 52.5 percent of likely voters.

• Overall, Ohioans had a good deal of confidence in the fairness of the electoral process: 53 percent said they had a "great deal of confidence" that their ballots would be counted fairly in 2006, and another 31 percent said they had "some confidence." Just 11 percent claimed to have "little confidence" and only 5 percent expressed "no confidence at all."

• Democrats expressed much less confidence in a fair vote count, with just 39 percent reporting a "great deal of confidence" in the process and another 40 percent "some confidence." In contrast, 77 percent of Republicans expressed a "great deal of confidence" and another 19 percent "some confidence." For independents, the comparable figures were 43 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Overall, 61 percent of likely voters expressed a "great deal of confidence" in the fairness of the process, while just 49 percent of less-likely voters reported a "great deal of confidence."

Conducted by the Center for Marketing & Opinion Research LLC of Canton. the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Look up your reps

Interesting new web site unveiled today from Public Citizen in Washington.

The release:

Public Citizen Reports Detail Contributions of Influence-Peddlers to Incumbent Members of Congress

Interactive Web Site Provides Sums Collected from Lobbyists, PACs

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Public Citizen today released 10 state-based reports designed to help voters gauge whether their members of Congress represent the public or big business. Interactive charts are available on a Web site that details the amount of contributions from lobbyists and political action committees to federal lawmakers.

Also available are data on the value of privately funded travel accepted by members, the amount of contributions from out-of-state donors and the percentage of contributions from donors who give $200 or less.

The information, packaged into 10 state-based reports titled Under the Influence, Special Interest Money and Members of Congress, is available at http://www.cleanupwashington.org/sii/. Currently, the site includes information about lawmakers from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Data about lawmakers in the rest of the states will be released very soon.

Look up your reps

Interesting new web site unveiled today from Public Citizen in Washington.

The release:

Public Citizen Reports Detail Contributions of Influence-Peddlers to Incumbent Members of Congress

Interactive Web Site Provides Sums Collected from Lobbyists, PACs

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Public Citizen today released 10 state-based reports designed to help voters gauge whether their members of Congress represent the public or big business. Interactive charts are available on a Web site that details the amount of contributions from lobbyists and political action committees to federal lawmakers.

Also available are data on the value of privately funded travel accepted by members, the amount of contributions from out-of-state donors and the percentage of contributions from donors who give $200 or less.

The information, packaged into 10 state-based reports titled Under the Influence, Special Interest Money and Members of Congress, is available at http://www.cleanupwashington.org/sii/. Currently, the site includes information about lawmakers from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Data about lawmakers in the rest of the states will be released very soon.

Progressive group unwraps 'Noe and Friends' video

Coinciding with this week's start of a criminal trial against rare coin dealer and GOP fund-raiser Tom Noe in Toledo, ProgressOhio.org released a video of the Jan. 7, 2005, swearing-in ceremony of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith Lanzinger.

"As you heard, Tom Noe, our master of ceremonies, is a very dear old friend," Lanzinger croons.

The video's link is here, and requires viewers to sign in:

Noe, the former chairman of the Ohio Board of Regents and Ohio Turnpike Commission, -- convicted in a separate federal case of laundering campaign contributions to George Bush's 2004 re-election -- gives opening remarks, acknowledging Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Auditor Betty Montgomery, House Speaker Jon Husted and Gov. Bob Taft.

Noe also boasts about his fund-raising efforts on behalf of President Bush and U.S. Sen. George Voinovich.

On the video prepared by the newly-formed 501(c)(4) organization, Barbra Steisand can be heard singing "The Way We Were" in the background.

Noe has pleaded not guilty to theft, money laundering, forgery and a corrupt activity charge based on allegations he stole more than $2 million in investments, from an unbid $50 million contract he had with the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. He faces up to 10 years on the corrupt activity charge.

The trial is expected to last at least six weeks through Election Day on Nov. 7.

Schmidt feeling some heat?

This 2nd Congressional District race wasn't supposed to be much of a contest, with an incumbent Republican running against an inexperienced Democrat who wasn't expected to have two nickels to rub together.

Well, maybe not.

You have to wonder whether Jean Schmidt is hearing footsteps, given what has taken place in the past week.

First, 2nd District voters - mostly Democrats and independents - found a flyer from the National Republican Congressional Committee in their mailboxes, one that goes after Democrat Victoria Wulsin on immigration, claming she wants to hand out $50 billion of taxpayers' money to illegals for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and food stamps.

Then comes the first 30-second TV ad from the Schmidt campaign, one that tries to turn Wulsin into a Warner Brothers cartoon character, with funny "boing" noises every time her head pops up in the picture. The message: She wants to raise your taxes.

Last year, when Schmidt was running in the special election for the 2nd District seat, her TV ad campaigns started out with nice, happy ads of Schmidt on the front porch of her home, telling us she's our buddy and our neighbor. The go-for-the-jugular attack ads came later.

This could mean one of three things:
1. Schmidt's worried.
2. The Schmidt campaign wants to define Wulsin for 2nd District voters before she can define herself (Wulsin's TV campaign is unlikely to start for another week or so).
3. Or both of the above.

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